PSA relying on Panama’s president to resolve terminal spat

PSA relying on Panama’s president to resolve terminal spat

Officials at the Singapore headquarters of global terminal operator PSA International are waiting quietly to see if a spat at one of its concessions in Latin America can be resolved by the president of Panama.

Last month Panama’s National Assembly repealed the law governing PSA’s concession, which it won in 2015, for the construction and operation of a $400m, 2m teu container terminal on the east bank of the Panama Canal’s Pacific entrance.

Politicians voted to oust PSA on the grounds that the terminal operator is in effect state owned. PSA is owned by Temasek Holdings, which is 100% owned by the Singapore government. This is a problem under Article 290 of the Panamanian constitution, which states: “No foreign government or official or semi official foreign entity or institution may acquire ownership over any part of the national territory”.

In the ensuing uproar following the vote in the national assembly Panama’s president, Juan Carlos Varela, tweeted he would veto the bid to kick PSA out when the bill comes to his office for legislation.

Officials at PSA’s headquarters in Singapore are now waiting on the president to do as he tweeted, throwing out the legislation to allow the terminal operator to continue operating in the country.

PSA welcomed its first post-panamaxes to its Panama terminal after significant upgrade works that have taken depths alongside to 16.5 m and added a raft of new port gear over the past 18 months.

 

Sam Chambers

Starting out with the Informa Group in 2000 in Hong Kong, Sam Chambers became editor of Maritime Asia magazine as well as East Asia Editor for the world’s oldest newspaper, Lloyd’s List. In 2005 he pursued a freelance career and wrote for a variety of titles including taking on the role of Asia Editor at Seatrade magazine and China correspondent for Supply Chain Asia. His work has also appeared in The Economist, The New York Times, The Sunday Times and The International Herald Tribune.

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